This is me. I’m a vegetarian.

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Dear Meredith,

I'm ready to get back on the dating market after ending a long-term relationship last year. However, in the last few months I've decided to stop eating meat, and I'm wondering how that will be perceived by potential dates. Right now, when so much of dating is online, we're all making lots of judgments about people without ever meeting them outside of an app. I've noticed that there seems to be a stigma against vegetarians, as well as vegans (which I'd like to become eventually). I was surprised by how negatively my family reacted when I told them, for example, and how I'm constantly asked "why?," as though I need to explain myself sufficiently before someone accepts that this is a reasonable lifestyle choice.

Ideally I'd like to date someone who has the same views toward food as I do (only because it would make meals logistically easier), but it's not essential. In your opinion, how much is the fact that I'm a vegetarian-and-aspiring-vegan going to impact dating? And what is the most neutral way I can mention it so that it doesn't come across as off-putting? Is early disclosure necessary? (I'm a woman who dates men, in case that makes a difference...which I suspect it does).

– Impossible Burger?

It matters about as much as anything else, which is basically not at all. I'm allergic to cats and pretty much never want to go rock climbing. Based on what I know of dating apps in Boston (if you're a woman looking for a man), that might seem like a big issue. Men apparently love mountains and cats. Good for them.

But there are tons of people who have other interests. Other allergy sufferers, and people who like movies instead of hiking. There are also many vegetarians and vegans out there. There are people who are happy to sit with someone who wants to eat a mushroom burger while they enjoy beef.

Do not expect your family's reaction to be what you hear from men. Maybe your closest relatives are surprised by this lifestyle change because they've known you forever and cherish the family's favorite dishes. Perhaps they remember you scarfing down hotdogs when you were a kid. Maybe they see the change as a phase, or as a judgement of their choices. A new person won't have that history with you.

If there's some question/prompt on your dating app of choice, say something like, "on the hunt for a restaurant with good vegetarian takeout." Or maybe, "new vegetarian here, seeking recipes." Make it light and simple. Because it is.

– Meredith

Readers? I wonder if this problem is regional. Vegetarians in Boston don't seem hard to come by.